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Many shooters overlook night shooting because they think it is too inconvenient, too difficult, or just not as much fun as shooting in the daylight.  I will have to let you in on a little secret.  Bad things happen at night!  Most engagements take place during hours of limited visibility.”   -Kyle E. Lamb

Defensive Concepts NC Low Light Carbine

09 February, 2013

Bostic, NC

Chris Clifton and Steve Hawley, Defensive Concepts NC

I have admittedly plagiarized myself with the quote above – I used the same quote, originally written by Lamb in Green Eyes, Black Rifle, in a low light handgun AAR I penned a few years ago.  But it still rings true and bears repeating.  Whether it’s a poorly lit parking garage, a movie theater with variable lighting, or a dark hallway or room in your own home, self defensive shooting encounters rarely happen in bright, glorious sunlight.  Yet ignorance, range limitations, or laziness keep most of us from practicing in such conditions.   Still fewer seek out and receive quality, sound training on the subject, and think turning on the weapon mounted or handheld light and burning everything down is the answer.   Or not using a light at all is the answer out of fear of becoming a bullet magnet.  Reality lies somewhere between.

The class began pretty much as every class worth its money does, with a “group hug” and thorough safety brief.  A safety brief is of particular importance in a class such as low light shooting because it introduces students, often for the first time, to shooting and completing tasks in an environment with limited or no visibility.  A momentary lapse or less than thorough understanding of safety can lead to disastrous results in such an environment.  We then moved on to an in-depth discussion, complete with powerpoint slides and handouts, of the 10 principles of fighting in low light.  These 10 principles are the very foundation of the effective application of the material covered in a low light fighting scenario.   Chris and Steve also covered topics such as choosing a light, desired mounting locations on a long gun, and two different handheld techniques that we would practice in both daylight and night time conditions. 

Once the classroom lecture was complete, we moved to the range for live fire exercises.   One of the fundamentals of DCNC’s classes that I really appreciate and whole-heartedly agree with is the strict adherence to stringent accuracy standards.  Whether engaging targets at 5 yards or 50, in the light or the dark, you are held accountable for EVERY round fired.  Every round must be located in a fist sized group in the upper torso, and every head shot must find the ocular cavity, not the teeth and not the forehead.  You won’t hear phrases like “combat effective” used to explain away poorly placed shots on a cardboard target that is not moving and not shooting back, for Chris and Steve realize that a “combat effective” hit in the lower abdomen or shoulder or arm will most likely be a complete miss under the true stress of two way range activity.  Since we are the good guys, we don’t have the “luxury” of being devoid or morals or a conscience, and are responsible for every round fired regardless of intent.  Those misses can have unthinkable consequences, particularly if an innocent person has to eat a round because we can’t hit what we are aiming at on command with boring regularity. 

We began with a diagnostic test to determine the skill level of every student in the class.  Students were then introduced to two hand held light techniques: Harries (with two variations) and light touch.  We were given ample reps with each method using a series of drills to become very familiar with them in the relative safety of a well light range.  Each of these drills, and every low light drill we ran for the duration of the class, could be directly tied back to one or more of the 10 principles of low light fighting.  We then engaged in similar drills with our weapon mounted lights in the day light to simulate fighting in the dark with our rifles.  Chris and Steve also reviewed malfunction clearance in the comfort of daylight.  Since guns still malfunction with the lights out, it makes sense to practice getting them up and running in the dark as well.  We rounded out the daylight portion of the class by engaging 10” steel targets at distances of 113 and 224 yards from two supported positions. 

We broke for dinner and waited for darkness.  Once the sun had disappeared over the horizon, we headed back to the firing line to apply the very same techniques at night that we had practiced in the daylight.  Many were made painfully aware of the need for strict adherence to white light discipline once daylight no longer hid accidental discharges from flashlights.  Any inappropriate touching of the switch of your light, whether while moving, reloading, clearing a malfunction, etc. broadcast your position for all the world to see.  We drilled both hand held light techniques and weapon mounted light techniques.  However, accuracy standards were not relaxed one bit.  Though accuracy tends to suffer at night, we were still expected to do whatever it took to only put accurate hits on target.  That meant slowing down and concentrating on fundamentals first and foremost.  We were also given the opportunity to clear malfunctions in the dark.  Things change quite a bit, even when you already know what malfunction you will experience because you set it up.   We moved over to the steel range in the dark and engaged those same 10” targets in two man teams, one being a shooter and the other the illuminator.  Finally, the night was rounded out with the snake drill in the dark.  I will say that my belief that a rifle with even the most remote possibility of being pressed into service to save a life should have a weapon mounted light on it was firmly reinforced.  Shooting with a handheld and a rifle sucks, but you still better know how to do it and practice every now and then.

Defensive Concepts NC’s low light carbine course is designed to give students sound fundamentals for fighting with a rifle in areas of reduced or limited illumination, and gives them actual experience using those fundamentals in a low light environment.  DCNC uses the solid approach of building block exercises and personal attention to give each and every student the necessary tools to become better, smarter shooters.  Of particular importance is the safe, effective manner in which they introduce material in the daylight, familiarize students with it as well as can be expected in a short time, and then give them experience applying the exact same material in the dark.  And it is appropriate, real world applicable, tried and tested TTP’s that increase the students’ likelihood of prevailing in a low light deadly encounter.  Though we had a wide range of experience in the class, I never once felt unsafe.  Everyone adhered to the safety rules put in place the beginning of the class, both on the firing line and during the class in general. 

In summary, we owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, and other responsible law abiding citizens to be as prepared and proficient with the firearms we own in the event that they are ever pressed into service to end a threat and save lives.   Contrary to what the many egg-headed politicians spew nightly on the news, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, and when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.  Trusting your preparation to a quality outfit such as Defensive Concepts NC will help ensure you have the proper skills, knowledge, and attitude to effectively sway the fight in your favor should you ever find yourself in such a situation.

See you at the range.

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